Will WTCS Cagliari be the first step back to the Olympics for Gwen Jorgensen and Katie Zaferes?
American "new mom" superstars are back to WTCS racing as they compete for a spot in Paris next summerPhoto by: Kevin Mackinnon
This weekend’s World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) race in Cagliari will feature many of the top contenders for both the world title this year, and the Olympic Games in Paris. Qualifying for the Games is in full swing, and the appearance of two American medalists will be one of the highlights of the race tomorrow.
Gwen Jorgensen returns to the WTCS series after a six-year hiatus. Since her last race at this level, the 2016 gold medalist has had two boys (her second child, George, was born last November) and pursued an elite running career. Last year she announced that she’d like to go after a spot on the US team for the Paris Games, and started the long qualification process with World Cup events in Taupo (third) and New Plymouth (14th) in New Zealand, then took second at the Americas Triathlon Cup St. Peters Missouri in April.
Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen returns to triathlon for run at Paris Games
There are a lot more points up for grabs at WTCS events, though, which is why getting to race here in Italy this weekend is a huge step for Jorgensen’s bid an an Olympic spot.
Adding to the fun is Jorgensen’s countrywoman Katie Zaferes (pictured above), who took the bronze medal in Tokyo (along with the silver in the mixed relay), who is also looking to return to the Olympics. She gave birth to her son Kimble just under a year after she competed in Tokyo. Zaferes has returned to form quickly – she took second at the Americas Triathlon Cup Sarasota, then broke away from the field from the gun in Missouri to win that race. A couple of weeks ago she won the Americas Triathlon Cup and Central American and Caribbean Championships Punta Cana.
As Zaferes and Jorgensen return to top form, it makes for an interesting time for the American women trying to get to Paris. Taylor Spivey has been one of the most consistent women on the WTCS scene over the last few years, but that didn’t get her to Tokyo, and hasn’t netted her a WTCS win, either. Spivey is yet another contender for the US team next year, adding her name to the list that also includes Taylor Knibb (last year’s 70.3 world champion and third-place finisher at Yokohama won’t be here in Cagliari after testing positive for COVID after the race in Japan), Summer Rappaport (who competed in Tokyo), Kirsten Kasper and Erika Ackerlund. All would likely be shoe ins to make the Olympics if they competed for virtually any other country (other than Great Britain, which has an equally strong depth chart).
American “new mom” superstars signal they’re serious about Paris with one-two finish
Despite all that firepower, it’s not a given we’ll see an American champ tomorrow. WTCS Abu Dhabi champ Beth Potter is here after skipping Yokohama, while Tokyo silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown looks to defend the title she won here last year.
You can check out the full start list here.
Regardless of whether or not either Zaferes or Jorgensen take the win here, a good showing and a top American finish would go a long way towards qualifying for Paris next year, which is why they’ll be getting lots of attention here in Cagliari.
The women’s race will start Saturday at 11.00am local time (5 AM EST), and you can watch it live and on demand on TriathlonLIVE.tv.